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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Muhammad's Silent Army: Islamist Extremists Gain Upper Hand in Kashmir Relief Efforts

Now and again we discover some very good illustrations coming from the every day world. These excerpts from a Der Spiegel article say much more than the article writer seems to recognize.

All emphases mine.

Muhammad's Silent Army Islamist Extremists Gain Upper Hand in Kashmir Relief Efforts,

By Susanne Koelbl, DER SPIEGEL, February 25, 2006

[This section about Mohammed Maqsood illustrates how how these true believers think. They need to be taken seriously as threats to everything good and decent in this world.]

Militant Islamists were among the first to provide emergency relief in earthquake
devastated Muzaffarabad in Pakistan's Kashmir region. The people of Kashmir just
call them "the militants," and 25-year-old Mohammed Maqsood is one of them. His
beard is dark and long, and his head is covered with a Palestinian scarf. He refuses to shake women's hands, and he never looks directly at their faces when he addresses them. It's an open secret that [his] organization is the civilian wing of a banned guerilla organization, Jaish-e-Mohammed, or "Army of Muhammad," and its fighters are battling Indian security forces in the Indian section of Kashmir in an effort to "liberate" the Indian-held side of the Kashmir Valley.

Maqsood sits on a floor cushion in his office and has an aide serve milk tea and biscuits. He has had little contact with foreigners from the West. But he is familiar with the images of torture and abuse from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, as well as with publicized photos from the US terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Maqsood harbors a deep dislike for non-Muslims, especially Americans.

Afghanistan under the Taliban government was what Maqsood would consider an ideal, God-fearing Islamic society, and he still reveres Taliban leader Mullah Omar as the greatest living Muslim. The Americans, he says, bombed his dream to bits.

Maqsood has been angrily following the controversy over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad printed in the Danish and other European media. As far as Maqsood is concerned, the dispute is a long way from being resolved. "We want revenge," he says. Maqsood would like to see the Danish government send the people responsible for the cartoons to the gallows. And if the death penalty doesn't exist in Europe, he says, the cartoonists and other employees of the newspaper should be extradited to an Islamic country to stand trial [or] there can be no peace. Maqsood refuses to accept the notion that the entire matter was little more than a misunderstanding between different cultures, and that a regime like the Danish government cannot be held responsible for the independent actions of its citizens. [Catch the "Muslim logic.']

The Hamas model

...[B]anned militant groups...operate openly in the earthquake region, albeit under new names and mottos -- and as charitable organizations.Their politics and policies resemble those of the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah in the Middle East, where radicals have filled the vacuum left by the state. They develop social institutions and help address the local population's day-to-day survival needs. In the long term, this social role also helps the local population identify with the respective groups' political goals.

Hassan, the imam, is trying to convince his congregation to participate in a protest march against the Danish Muhammad cartoons. "If we do not defend our religion," he says, inciting the crowd, "we will soon become slaves of the West." He insists that non-Muslims have no respect for other cultures, and that it's too late for apologies. According to the imam, the only possible response to the blasphemous cartoons is "jihad, holy war!" "We are fighting for the rebirth of the true Islam."

Their work, including that of the fundamentalists, is held in high regard by both the government and international organizations. "As long as they don't arm themselves and recruit rebels, there isn't anything wrong with what they are doing," says General Shaukat Sultan, a spokesman for President Musharraf. His words reflect the hope that earthquake relief may have given the Islamists a new purpose. [You see, even the Pakistani government has liberals.]

But the Islamists' rigorous attention to local residents traumatized by the loss of their homes and families could be making an impact. The organizations are planning for the long term and intend to continue working toward reconstruction in Kashmir this coming spring. They appear to be generously funded by Muslims from Saudi Arabia and by overseas Pakistanis. [Our "friends" are ubiquitous.]

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Does anyone in America any longer think that there is any way to reason with Islamists? Why, yes, those bureaucrats who rubber-stamped the DPW deal surely did and do.


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